Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers March Slice a Day Challenge! I’m slicing every day this month. Thanks for stopping by.
I went to the grocery store last night. (Dishwasher detergent was on my list, as the homemade stuff didn’t work as well as we needed it to work…)
There’s this look that people give each other now, from 6 feet apart. Do you know it? It’s like you wave, or say, “Hello,” or maybe just nod. But in that little gesture, you seem to have a whole unspoken conversation.
“This is crazy, isn’t it?”
“Yea. I hope you are well.”
“Thanks, you too.”
“Do you think we’ll be like this for a long time?”
“Are your kids driving you crazy yet?”
“Yea. But I mean, I’m grateful for the time we have together.”
“I know what you mean. We are so lucky. So lucky.”
“Exactly. Can you imagine what other people are going through right now? I mean, here we are, walking around, going to the grocery store. We are blessed.”
“Maybe we should be helping other people instead of making sure we have enough snacks for our kids.”
“Well, I actually need dish detergent. See it? It’s under the vegan yogurt and the chips. Next to the apples.”
And then your wave or your “hello” or your nod is over, and you keep moving your cart.
Mr. Thought likened it to the connection after 9/11. We are coming together, albeit from a distance. (Please tell me that song is trending now. You should listen to it. From a distance there is harmony/And it echoes through the land/It’s the voice of hope/It’s the voice of peace/It’s the voice of every man…)
Our grocery store is wiping down the conveyor belt, and the keypad, etc. in between each customer, which actually does give a shopper a good feeling. It also backs up the line.
I was waiting to turn into my spot in line, behind 2 college kids. When it was their turn to move up in line, one of them said quietly to the other, “Dude, let her go ahead of you.”
The other kid didn’t seem to register the idea. He moved his cart up and was like, “Come on, we have to move up in line. Let’s go!”
His friend gave him a look and tried again. Finally, he said, “What are you going to do if you finish before me? How are you going to get home? I’m your ride, dude!” His friend still looked at him funny.
“Dude!” he yelled. “Let the lady go in front of you!” His friend finally looked at me, said, “Oh!” and moved to let me go in front.
“Thank you so much!” I said as I sent a little prayer out that my kids would be like the first guy.
There was something about walking around, past empty shelves and some people with masks, and then having these two college students give me their place in line, and then waiting in the line behind the white line while the conveyor belt was readied for me that made me start to get emotional. The clerk was running around trying to get everything wiped. “Almost ready!” he kept saying. I’ve worked retail before, and I know that feeling of a long, stalled line.
“It’s okay!” I said. “Thank you so much for everything you are doing!”
Am I really about to cry about the grocery store? I wondered.
The college students, now in the line next to me, were having a conversation.
“Dude, we didn’t even get very much stuff,” the first one said. They looked at their small carts of a bag of chips each, and a bottle of soda, maybe 2 other things.
“Dude, I didn’t even need anything. I just came because I was bored,” his friend said and laughed.
I was thankful to these students for letting me go ahead of them, and that’s why I didn’t speak to them in the teacher voice that was about to come out, “This is NOT the time to come to the grocery store because of boredom, DUDE!” I wanted to say. But I didn’t.
“Do you have a shoppers club card?” the clerk asked.
“Yes, but it’s my phone number,” I said.
“Well, that’s okay. I just washed the keypad, as you probably saw.”
I was allowed to put my phone number in, and then I rearranged some groceries on the conveyor belt.
“Ma’am?” the clerk got my attention. “I’m sorry. Can you please step behind the white line?”
The man behind me gave an annoyed snort, but I just thanked the clerk again. “You must be exhausted! Thank you for all you are doing!”
When my groceries were all the way through and bagged, the clerk stepped aside so I could step up past the white tape, and pay at the keypad.
As I was leaving, I passed the students and said: “Hey, thanks again for giving me your space in line.” I guess when I’m anxious, I just thank people a lot.
Then I held back tears the whole way to the car.